Take This Job and Shove It!

Ah yes, you've got to love the hastily penned resignation letter that doubles as an embittered list of grievances, invariably peppered with ill-thought-out sexual requests for your (by now former) boss to perform. The more outrageous, of course, the quicker the entire text makes its Internet-fueled way to inboxes and blogs across the globe.

Our friends at Gawker posted this fine speciman from the angry exit email genre a few hours ago. It's from Jeff Koyen, editor of the New York Press, who quit his job today over a cover story that made light of the Pope's failing health. To read Koyen's parting email in full, click below. (Caution: the last paragraph contains plenty of family un-friendly language.) And by all means, share your own collection of rashly emailed parting shots sent by enraged colleagues.

In Friday's Daily News, Rep. Anthony Weiner called on New Yorkers to "exercise their right to take as many of these rags as they can and put them in the trash." Unfortunately for Mr. Weiner, New Yorkers don't have that right. No one does. Interrupting the distribution of any newspaper -- even a paid one, wherein you buy, say, 1000 copies and toss them -- is against the law. Case law dictates that the right to circulation is to be held as sacred as the right to publish, as one is worthless without the other.

My bosses apparently dont believe in New York Press' right to distribute. They refused to stand up against Rep. Weiner; they refused to condemn his call-to-action as immoral (and illegal). They also refused to stand behind me in the face of harsh criticism for publishing Matt Taibbi's "52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." On Friday afternoon, I went on the 3 different radio programs and even suffered through an MSNBC appearance with Joe Scarborough and the disgusting bigot Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League. I did my best to show this battle to be one of free expression.

This morning, I was told to accept a two-week unpaid suspension. During that time, I was to "think about what this paper should be."

Problem is, New York Press already is the paper it should be. We are iconoclastic, occasionally obnoxious but always intelligent. If you see through the nasty Pope jokes, for instance, you will see a well-reasoned political argument.

Publisher Chris Rohland is a spineless alt-weekly weenie. I can't blame him, really. He has a wife and kids, and a nice home in New Jersey. He wants nothing more than to punch the clock and get his paychecks. Owner David Unger, who is the paper's ultimate owner, is similarly spineless. They want New York Press to be "advertiser-friendly;" they "dont want controversy."

That's their choice. But I dont need to be party to such weenieness. And I won't be sent to my room without dessert. Hence, I resigned this morning.

It's been a great run, and I have nothing but respect for everyone in the editorial department I've just left behind. Chris Rohland and David Unger, however, can blow me. Such weak-willed and lackluster men should not be in control of a newspaper, especially not in these times of editorial restriction by way of advertiser d***-sucking. They're too vulnerable to the appeal of money.

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15 Comments

  • Randy

    Also, if it's true that the owner approved the article and then gave Jeff Koyen a two week suspension after it was published (concocting some bogus reason to avoid seeming hippocritical), then I'm not sure what I'd call him but 'spineless, alt-weekly weenie' is not too far off the mark.

    -Randy

  • Randy

    Of course, advertising paid Jeff's salary but if the paper is supposed to be an 'alternative weekly' and not Entertainment Weekly fluff, then the owners should have stood behind Jeff Koyen.

    In the week following the pope piece, Matt Taibbi wrote a response in the NYP that was much more thoughtful and intelligent than the easy attacks that have been levelled against the article (I wish the article had been a bit more pointed so that a response wasn't necessary, but that's not really important...)

    After disliking the NYP during mugger's reign, I started reading it when Jeff Koyen signed on as editor. I found it obnoxious, enjoyable, provocative and everything else Jeff mentioned in his resignation letter. I hope it's stay the same but it doesn't seem likely. Good luck, Jeff.

    -Randy

  • Andy

    Jeff,
    It is interesting that you cast stones at the management of the publication that you formerly worked for in regards to chasing advertising dollars.Are you under the impression that your salary was paid by personal check??? The advertising dollars that flow through the paper enabled you to persue a career in writing/ editing.You alone are responsible for your actions.Your irresponsiblity dragged your former publication into your mud and now your surprised that you are out of a job??? What a Dick!

    -A

  • Roy

    Yes, by all means, the alt-newspaper scene needs to get out some 'serious content' and fast!

  • Greg Benton

    Maybe now the Press can hire a grown-up to do the editing and get some serious content. Go back to the zine scene, Jeff. You were out of your league at the Press.

  • Chip

    I agree with Roy. Get on with the book or at the very least post what happened those 3 last months in Prague.

  • Roy Batchelor

    Who would have thought that the guy that published Crank Magazine all those years ago could have held down a steady job at a fairly well-known, semi-legit alt-weekly for more than a couple of weeks anyways?

    It was a good run. Now, it's time to move on and find a new outlet that allows you to freely publish whatever the heck you want.

    Come back to zines or, better yet, finally publish that darned book.

  • damien barberi

    best of luck jeff.
    you really are going to need it on this sad, sad planet.
    pretty much a joke piece in an alt-weekly dealing with censorshit. nyp has been nothing short of phenomenal in the short time koyen has been there, and taibbi is simply the most honest writer around these days(see: wimblehack). give him 5 years and he'll be everywhere. this wasn't his greatest piece, and i'm sure he'd be the first to tell us, but it was funny so laugh you nuns-in-training. i was born and raised irish-catholic and got a kick out of it. this papacy without a doubt is the greatest, most lenient in modern history so i will give credit where it's due. but before jp2 finally does split will he come clean on all the shit his vatican has been shoveling down the world's collective throats these last 25 years? now that would be the funniest thing about his death.

  • J A Sefton

    I've just read Matt Taibbi's column to see what the fuss was about, and I now think that Jeff should have resigned. Not because the piece was particularly distasteful, but because it was so awful. Any editor deciding to publish that piece of ineffectual and puerile garbage deserves to be escorted straight from the building. I think Jeff was lucky to be asked just to take a 2 week suspension.

    On the flip side, I'm fairly amazed that anyone could take offense at that piece. Mr Taibbi writes like a pre-pubescent, so treat him as such - ignore him.

    Also, is there a phrase to describe "the phenomenon of a website crashing due to an overload of visitors caused by unexpected interest in an online news story"? Gotta love those HTTP 403.9 Error Messages at nypress.com

  • Alan Cabal

    Here's the resignation letter I sent in immediately upon reading Taibbi's stupid piece about the Pope:

    From: Al Cabal
    Date: Thu, 03 Mar 2005 08:48:01 -0500
    To:
    Cc:
    Bcc: ,
    Subject: Print This Verbatim, Or Not At All

    Alas and alack, we seem to have crossed the Rubicon with this latest issue of NY Press. I was sorely dismayed at Russ Smith's gutter-level deal with the mercenaries of the New Regime, preserving his execremental Neo-Con screeds at the expense of John Strausbaugh's magnificent expertise as the Master & Commander of the only so-called "alternative" newspaper capable of challenging the very model of the form, the Village Voice, and prevailing. It behooves us to remember that at the time of the Press' triumph over knee-jerk political correctness, the Voice cost readers $1.50 per issue.

    I gave Koyen and Zaitchik the benefit of the doubt, as I do with people in almost all circumstances. Their initial efforts seemed feeble and clumsy, but I felt that with some measure of support from the Old Guard they might be able to keep the transgressive pulse that drove the paper intact and keep it steady in these perilous times. I accepted the reduction in rates as a necessary sacrifice to keep the fiscally floundering effort afloat, assuming that at some point in the future, the disastrous decline in advertising revenues triggered by the 911 event might be reversed.

    It's been two years now, and the New York Press has succeeded in only one thing: it has become precisely what we used to mock. Flip-flop-wearing Williamsburg hipsters with body odor babbling about MDMA and getting (deleted) by tattooed anorexic women with black eyes and a voracious appetite for abuse.

    Gone are the great iconoclasts attracted by Strausbaugh's unerring command of syntax and context. Cockburn, Caldwell, Andrey Slivka, R.S. McCain, J.T. LeRoy, Ned Vizzini, the incomparable Tony Millionaire, Taki, Szamuely, Bill Bryk, Amy Sohn, my dear friend Darius James, who first introduced me to John Strausbaugh --- all gone. What fills the space? Bullies like J.R. Taylor and dickless juveniles like Matt Taibbi, whose hack tendencies clearly run in the family. Daddy does Michael Jackson on NBC, Sonny Boy trashes the Pope in a meaningless cat box liner. Instead of Amy Sohn, we get a (deleted) advice column from a High Times reject built like a fire hydrant.

    Lightweights all, desperately striving to be dangerous while leaving open the possibility of some safe and secure upward mobility in the defanged world of mainstream media. I'm a certified Satanist, and our current issue featuring Taibbi's adolescent assault on the Pope embarassed me. It was a waste of paper, and a mere insult, not in the least bit challenging, to the city's Roman Catholic population. He could have gone into P2, Marcinkus, and the assassination of John Paul I, but no, the lazy brat just ran off a stupid and ugly list that a 12 year old Marilyn Manson fan could have done better.

    My loyalty has its limits, and here we are. Take my name off the masthead. I am no longer a "contributing writer" to this sophomoric mockery. NY Press once challenged the Voice --- now it can barely compete with the Onion.

    Ta Ta For Now,

    Alan Cabal

  • Jeff Koyen

    Thanks for everyone's thoughts on my hastily penned exit letter. Ryan Underwood is actually right on one point--the request for s*xual favor was a bit over the top and undermined what was an otherwise sober statement (by my standards).

    Love or hate my style, it is my style. There's little the leopard can do, as they say. Given more time, I would've written more--and probably have been nastier. Unlike many of my peers, I'm not afraid to call out commercial interests and fearful owners, even at personal risk.

    My departure from New York Press does not bode well for independent media. This has little to do with me; I'm just another editor walking out over loss of autonomy (which shouldn't be a big story--this *should* be happening every day). But if a relatively small paper like NYP caves in the face of religious-right pressure, can you imagine the battles waged behind closed doors at more populist outlets?

    Robert Toshington is half right: The original piece was silly. And it was far from the strongest work (or even the most provocative work) we've published in the last two years. But many readers did find it funny, and many did see the political point hidden beneath the playground humor. We can't pick our battles, however, we can only choose whether or not we fight them.

    As for Toshington's other charges, I am not fat.

  • Robert Toshington

    I have to agree. I think the story was silly. It wasn't even written well. Jeff Koyen is a big fat weenie and probably has a little weenie to boot!

  • Liz O'Rourke

    I actually read through the Pope list in question and found it to be distasteful. It's my impression that Jeff thought he was keeping with an image that the NY Press was trying to achieve or maintain but in this age of political correctness, I'm surprised this article actually made it to print. I usually have a good sense of humor about a variety of things but I could not, in good faith, pass this article along to other people.